I Am A Crooked Disciple

Luke 9:28-43 – Transfiguration Sunday – for Sunday, February 7, 2016

(“The next day, when Jesus, Peter, John, and James had come down from the mountain, a large crowd met Jesus.”)

Transfiguration of Jesus - Raphael
Transfiguration of Jesus – Raphael

Whenever preaching, teaching, or simply pondering the stretch of Luke’s Gospel that highlighted Jesus’ transfiguration, I’ve focused most of my efforts “up on a mountain.”

But today, I’m more fascinated with what happened after “Jesus, Peter, John, and James had come down from the mountain.”

My fascination is also fed by the leftover learning from the singular course in ancient Greek that I survived during seminary.

In the ninth chapter of Luke (along with Mark 9:2-8 and Matthew 17:1-8), the Gospel reader “views” Jesus’ sublime transfiguration on a mountain. This was witnessed by the inner circle of disciples, was likely a parallel (literally, metaphorically, or both) to Moses’ mountaintop moment with the Holy in Exodus 34:29-35, and included God’s blessing on Jesus’ ministry.

But enough about that life-altering and transcendent event!

Afterwards, Jesus hiked down the mountain, back into the mess and stress of humanity. While Peter, James, and John’s souls were still awhirl from the transfiguration (and their soles probably ached from pounding along a rocky trail), a stranger buttonholed Jesus. Continue reading →

The 13th Disciple

Mark 10:35-45 – The 21st Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, October 18, 2015

“Allow one of us to sit on your right and the other on your left when you enter your glory.” (Mark 10:37)

number-13_2431820bEveryone heard James and John’s question. Though they would’ve denied it, they sought the favor from Jesus with their outdoor voices.

“Allow one of us to sit on your right and the other on your left when you enter your glory.”

You know what I mean. They didn’t whisper. They didn’t wait for a private moment. They didn’t rise early for a pre-dawn and private stroll with Jesus. James and John, together or apart, rarely cared who overheard them. Now, don’t get me wrong, those two brothers are good guys, and truly—truly—care about others. I’d go to hell and back with them. In fact, in following Jesus, it often seems like we’ve all walked into dangerous places, and have spoken words that put targets on our backs. I’ve seen how the Roman soldiers glare at us, wondering if we were threats. The Pharisees don’t hide their frowns, their dagger eyes searching for weaknesses in Jesus.

John and James are my friends. They are like brothers to me. Continue reading →